Saturday, June 4, 2016

2016 Judicial Candidates - LA Times Declares "It's Almost Over!"

The seven judicial candidates who have been endorsed by the LA Times received a welcome boost to their campaigns ahead of Tuesday, June 7, 2016's primary election when the Times today repeated it's April 28, 2016 endorsements of their candidacies.

The value of the LA Times endorsement is immeasurable in that it not only provides free national media coverage for the candidates, but it also lends credibility to their candidacies in way far more effective than slate mailers and yard signs. While not a game-changer in its own right, the Times' endorsements when combined with well managed campaigns and attractive ballot titles, should give all endorsees some degree of comfort in the run up to election day.

The headline, "It's almost over," doubtless rings true for all 23 candidates in the 7 races on the ballot Tuesday.  All 23 are, to varying degrees, likely somewhat pensive ahead of Tuesday's election.

For the 3 sitting Judges who have been challenged; Judge James Kaddo (Office 60) Judge Ray Santana (Office 120) and Judge Kathryn Solorzano (Office 165), that headline is particularly apt - there will be finality to those races as there can only be one winner. The power of incumbency, coupled with the might of the Met-News and Times endorsements should be more than enough to see them all comfortably reelected.

However, for the 17 candidates in the 4 'open races,' (one where a sitting judge is not being challenged) the odds are against any candidate garnering the necessary 50% plus one vote to secure a victory on Tuesday. Therefore, a runoff between the two highest vote-getters is a virtual certainty in all 4 races.

But who are the two likely highest vote-getters in each race? We'll take an educated guess:

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner holds the advantage of the LA Times endorsement, as well as the services of judicial campaign guru David Gould. Rival Debra Archuleta has run an aggressive campaign, and despite losing out on media endorsements and access to effective slate mail, is a formidable opponent. But for the late entry of Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim to the race, Schreiner could have won the race outright - Kim has an almost identical ballot title to Schreiner's. However Kim's candidacy, which lacks the finances to feature strongly in this race, will nevertheless likely erode Schreiner's lead to the point where a Schreiner-Archuleta runoff seems inevitable. It is also entirely possible that Archuleta may emerge from the Primary with more votes than  Schreiner. However, any such lead will have to be put into context by combining Shreiner's votes with Kim's. Also in this race is attorney Jonathan Malek, however, his candidacy is unlikely to impact the results.

Despite missing out on the LA Times endorsement, Deputy District Attorney Efrain Matthew Aceves has a powerful ballot designation and a well financed campaign managed by David Gould. Aceves, however,  faces stiff competition from LA Times endorsee Commissioner Cyndy Zuzga. In a straight fight between the two, Aceves' ballot designation would likely trump Zuzga's Times endorsement, as Gould's oft-cited prophecy, "Commissioners, in general do not necessarily do very well against D.A.s" has held true more often than not.  However, MABA-PAC endorsed attorney Alicia Molina is also in this race, and although not seen as a winner, she could easily erode Aceves' and Zuzga's votes to the point where they will face each other in a November runoff, at which point Gould's prophecy will likely be proven true. Also in this race is attorney Michael Ribbons who will not be a factor.

 Deputy District Attorney Susan Jung Townsend holds all the cards in this race; a well-funded campaign managed by Gould, the Times and Met-News endorsements, and a strong ballot title. Rival Deputy DA Javier Perez, despite losing out on media endorsements and the services of campaign strategist Gould, has a broadly supported campaign. Townsend and Perez are clearly the frontrunners in this race with Townsend, perhaps, having the edge. However, attorney Aaron Weissman and DDA Hubert Yun are also in this race. Weissman has grassroots support from the GOP, which will be worth a few points. Yun, despite not appearing to engage in any active campaigning beyond random sightings of yard signs, has a strong ballot title, also worth a few points. In all likelihood, it will be a Townsend - Perez runoff in November.

In the most crowded of the races, Deputy District Attorney David Berger faces four opponents. Berger (who edits this blog) has the advantage of the Met News and LA Times endorsements, a well funded campaign managed by Gould, and a strong ballot title. Deputy Attorney General Kim Nguyen was looking like a strong rival, enjoying the advice and influence of legendary big-league campaign strategist Parke Skelton. However, Nguyen's campaign has suffered some setbacks. At one point Nguyen looked like being the only female candidate in this race after Susan Jerich suddenly dropped out. However, that advantage dissipated equally suddenly when Deputy City Attorney Onica Valle Cole jumped in. Added to the mix was the loss of the LA Times endorsement, who said of Nguyen that she "could benefit from another few years of experience before taking the bench." Despite the setbacks, Nguyen has secured a slew of political endorsements and has an impressive campaign warchest. 

It is, however, a very crowded race for Office 158.  Unlike some of the other races, there are no 'deadwood' candidates - all appear to be seriously campaigning. Cole, who despite limited campaign finances, has successfully leveraged her strong ties to the community. Cole splits the female vote that otherwise belonged to Nguyen. Deputy DA Fred Mesropi splits the prosecutor vote and has a strong ballot title, but his late start on the campaign puts him at a disadvantage. Added to the mix the is the candidacy of GOP endorsed criminal defense attorney Naser Khoury, and it's not as easy to predict the two highest vote getters in this race compared to the others - in a five way race, all could conceivably poll somewhere within five points either side of 20% and the margins could be wafer thin at both ends of the scale.

Most experts believe that the benefit of the LA Times endorsement, coupled with a well planned campaign that has been active since January 2015, likely puts Berger into the runoff. Who else makes the runoff? Most believe that it will be between Mesropi and Nguyen; Mesropi because of his ballot title, and Nguyen because she has campaigned long and hard.

The analysis provided above is an educated guess at best, and the high voter turnout expected for the Presidential Primary could change the analysis considerably.

This year, because of the candidacy of the editor, the Dragnet is not making any endorsements, so vote the way you think best. 

In the interests of full disclosure, the Los Angeles Dragnet is edited by David Berger. Any and all opinions expressed here are personal and are not reflective of any opinion, position or view of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.



Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis. But there's one thing that you have not considered - the Bernie factor. All the Bernie voters hate Shrillary Clinton and as the Times is endorsing the worlds greatest LIAR, all the Bernie people will not follow the Times endorsements. Just sayin

Anonymous said...

You talk of Kim Ngyuen having setbacks to her campaign, but don't talk about you own setback - getting a not qualified rating from the State Bar County Association. I don't understand how you can be in this election if the Bar says you are not qualified. You must resign immediately.

Anonymous said...

LOL 7:14am. LACBA is not the State Bar. It’s a bunch of loser attorneys who formed a volunteer club to try to make themselves look important. Sure, they have an important sounding name, but they have no power, no influence, and after this ridiculous rating, no credibility. If you’re working for a big downtown lawfirm, it probably looks good on your bio to say you’re a chairman of one of their countless irrelevant committees. If you’re a sole practitioner - a slip and fall lawyer, it probably looks good on your website to be able boast that you are a past chairman of the ‘Litigation Committee.’ LACBA has more past chairs than the Titanic, and is as much of a disaster. The basis of LACBA’s rating is that one or more of their losers does not like the fact that Berger edits this blog, and it was Berger who lead the charge against one of LACBA’s sacred cows; Carmen the Clown Trutanich. LACBA proved that they’re a bunch of irrelevant morons by trying to claim another candidate for Seat 158 is qualified. That person has a record of a criminal conviction, bankruptcy and State Bar discipline, but he’s qualified according to LACBA’s morons. They also rated another candidate for Seat 158 as ‘well qualified,’ that’s high praise isn’t it? But that candidate has held 5 jobs in the last 5 years and has never set foot inside a courtroom as an advocate. Never tried a case, but she’s well qualified. IMHO, Berger is the most qualified candidate for Seat 158, and I’m surprised he hasn’t responded to LACBA publicity - he should publish pictures of the morons who authored their feckless rating and photoshop clown hats on their heads.

Anonymous said...

My predictions.
All the judges win
11. Schreiner Archuleta runoff.
42. Aceves wins Seat 42 by a landslide on Tuesday night. Won't even be close.
84: Townsend Perez runoff
165: Berger could wins by a fraction - Khoury & Mesropi will be lucky to poll above 5%, Cole only gets 10% at best. As for Kim, she won't get the female vote because most voters won't know she's a female - Kim can be male or female in Asian cultures, she'll get 25% at the most. Do the math, that's 45%. Hell it could be 49.9% Berger still wins.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to see why LACBA dinged you if you allow comments like 11:50am makes. He or she is basically calling LACBA a bunch of tossers which is very disrespectful and you allowing such comment to be made shows a lack of judicial temperament.

Anonymous said...

@6:06PM. Please clarify. You called LACBA a bunch of "tossers" rather than "losers" Was that a mistake caused by autocorrect or did you intend to use that word? I can understand LACBA being a bunch of losers, but tossers is probably going a little far. In my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Why have you not exposed the disgusting RoboCall scandal of Deputy Public Defender Tami Warren? In the call Warren claims she is a conservative which is bullshit as she is a democrat and a big Obama fan. She claimed that Judge Solorzano does not believe in god saying "Unlike my opponent who is endorsed by the democratic party, I believe in conservative values, god" and some bullshit about the constitution. What's happend Joe Friday? Maybe after you LOOSE this election you can go back to covering crap like this.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the factors you don't consider are the ones that work to your disadvantage: Endorsement of the LA County Democratic Party, endorsement of the LA County Federation of Labor, and Bar rating. And the last time I remember a Deputy Attorney General running against a DDA, the DAG won (Gomez v. Jones).

Anonymous said...

2004 was a long time ago, and Gus Gomez was an established politician and an experienced prosecutor. Ms Ngyuen has not tried a single case. Yes she had the Democratic Party endorsement, and organized labor too, but that may not be enough to swing the balance in her favor. It sure will be an interesting evening. Best of luck to all the candidates,

Anonymous said...

12:40PM Gus Gomez was the last Deputy AG to win election to the Superior Court running against a Deputy DA. That was in 2004. Gus was an experienced and accomplished trial attorney, who was cross-designated as a Deputy DA for a while. He was also a councilman in Glendale, so he had quite a following. Ms Nguyen has never tried a case. Yes, she has the Democratic Party endorsement, and the County Fed too. But this is a downticket vote. Most folks remember who to vote for when it comes to President and Senator, but by the time they reach Office 158, they may not remember. I guess by this time tomorrow night we'll have the answer. Best of luck to all.

Anonymous said...

I guess you can tell who berger is most frightened of, or he wouldn't have attacked her quite so vociferously.

So glad he has time to edit this blog as he shuffles paperwork instead of actually trying cases. Not qualified, indeed.

Anonymous said...

hope you make it to the runoff, nguyen didn't quite perform to your expectations, did she?